The use of headphones while running seems to be more and more poular in training runs and races.
The use of headphones while running has advocates and detractors. Listening to music on the run can be motivational and take your mind off the monotony of running for some. On the other hand there are safety issues associated with wearing them. Runners cannot hear what is going on around them and they put themselves at risk.
According to the Road Runners Club of America, “Since the mid 1980’s the RRCA has maintained a long-standing guideline against the use of headphones in running events and group training runs. This is a safety precaution and a risk management responsibility for race directors and run leaders. As such, race directors and group run leaders are encouraged to ban or strongly discourage the use of headphones in races and group runs.”
A few years back USATF issued rules banning the use of headphones in all sanctioned events. Due to pressure from event directors who feared losing participants the rule was amended to allow headphones as follows , "(f) The visible possession or use by athletes of video, audio, or communications devices in the competition area. The Games Committee for an LDR event may allow the use of portable listening devices not capable of receiving communication; however, those competing in Championships for awards, medals, or prize money may not use such devices." So according to the USATF headphones are allowed except that in ‘Championship” events if someone say comes in first place wearing a headphone they would not be eligible for the award.
Locally particularly with the loss of many safe running routes such as along the boardwalks due to Hurricane Sandy many runners are now running on the roads. Wearing headphones on the roads can be especially dangerous. You cannot hear cars that are approaching or heed warnings of caution or danger.
When running in a group wearing headphones can also be impolite. Did you ever try to talk to someone with headphones on? They are oblivious to the outside world most of the time.
While most local events do not ban headphones they do discourage their use and warn participants to remove them at key parts of the race such as the start and finish line where they need to listen to course marshals or event staff for instructions.
So try to keep the headphones at home or use them on a treadmill and enjoy the company of friends and the sounds of nature on a run. Listen to the rustle of leaves, the pattering of your feet on the pavement, the wind, and the ocean waves pounding on the shore or the chirping of birds overhead.